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15 Jan, 2010 20:34

Recession hits American youth the hardest

Overall unemployment in the US hovers around 10 percent, but recent college graduates are having a harder time than most - and many of them are deeply in debt from paying for their educations.

 As official unemployment numbers in the United States hover around 10 percent, many experts predict that the real rates could be far greater, especially among younger Americans. Recent college graduates seem to be feeling the worst of the recession – and many have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from the expensive colleges and universities the attended hoping to land a high-paying job. Aliza King graduated from George Washington University in May 2009, but she remains unemployed.

George Washington University, set in the United States capital and affectionately known as GW, has shaped some of America's top leaders. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover both graced the campus with their presence, but what kind of graduates does this prestigious institution boast today? 

"My days are spent like winter breaks or like weekends and it's nice, but it gets boring and I'd like a job," said King. 

Despite top grades and a resume lined with internships, King is now back at home, trying to make the best of her situation. She isn't alone, however – 54 percent of Americans under the age of 25 don't have a job.

"From talking to my friends…besides one or two, none of them really have the job that they want or the job even in the field that they want and I have some friends who have been looking for jobs for six, seven months and just recently got jobs as office assistants or glorified secretaries. They get a salary, but it's definitely not ideal it's definitely what they went to GW to do," she said.

Adding to the pain for these recent GW grads is the cost of their degrees. With tuition and fees averaging around $200,000 for the four years most students need to get a bachelor’s degree, George Washington University is the most expensive college in the United States.

Despite the dreary outlook for young Americans, admission into these pricy colleges is becoming more and more selective, showing that many young people are willing to take on major amounts of debt even if they might not land a job when they graduate.

"We're really the foremost university that's really connected and in the seat of the nation's capital and in close proximity with many of the organizations with whom they want to visit," said Marva Gumbs Jennings, director of the career center at George Washington University.

Aliza King focuses on the positives as she spends hours every day filling out applications and browsing the Internet for job ads.

"It's a little lonely and a little frustrating, but I keep having to remind myself that it's not me and it's not what I'm doing that’s wrong, it's that the economy is bad," she said.